counter create hit Escape from Freedom - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Escape from Freedom

Availability: Ready to download

If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape mod If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm's work analyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.


Compare

If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape mod If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm's work analyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.

30 review for Escape from Freedom

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    ‭Die Furcht vor der Freiheit = The Fear of Freedom, Erich Fromm First published in the United States in 1941. In the book, Fromm explores humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. His special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه می سال 1972میلادی عنوان: گریز از آزادی؛ نویسنده: اریش فروم؛ مترجم: عزت الله فولادوند؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، فرانکلین، 1348، در 294ص؛ چاپ دوم 1 ‭Die Furcht vor der Freiheit = The Fear of Freedom, Erich Fromm First published in the United States in 1941. In the book, Fromm explores humanity's shifting relationship with freedom, with particular regard to the personal consequences of its absence. His special emphasis is the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه می سال 1972میلادی عنوان: گریز از آزادی؛ نویسنده: اریش فروم؛ مترجم: عزت الله فولادوند؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، فرانکلین، 1348، در 294ص؛ چاپ دوم 1351؛ در 294ص؛ چاپ چهارم 1356؛ چاپ پنجم 1366؛ چاپ ششم 1370؛ هفتم 1375؛ چاپ بعدی، 1381؛ در 230ص؛ شابک 9643030490؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، مروارید، چاپ هشتم 1379؛ در 306ص؛ شابک 9646026842؛ چاپ نهم 1381؛ یازدهم 1385؛ سیزدهم 1388؛ شابک 9789646026858؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، کانون فرهنگی آموزش، 1394، در 258ص؛ شابک 9786001216749؛ موضوع آزادی، دموکراسی، توتالیتاریسم، روانشناسی اجتماعی از نویسندگان آلمانی؛ سده 20م عنوان: گریز از آزادی؛ نویسنده: اریش فروم؛ مترجم: امیر اسماعیلی؛ تهران، توسن، 1362؛ در 109ص؛ فهرست کتاب: فصل اول: آیا آزادی مسئله‌ ای روانی است؟؛ فصل دوم: پیدایش فرد و ابهام مفهوم آزادی؛ فصل سوم: آزادی در دوران رفورم؛ فصل چهارم: انسان نوین و دوراهی آزادی؛ فصل پنجم: مکانیسم‌های گریز؛ فصل ششم: روانشناسی نازیسم؛ فصل هفتم: آزادی و دموکراسی؛ ضمیمه خوی و سیر اجتماع پروفسور «اریک (اریش) فروم»، استاد بزرگ روانشناسی اجتماعی، به بررسی آزادی میپردازند. نخست آزادی را تعریف میکنند، و تفاوت آنرا با آنچه که در جامعه، آزادی میخوانند، بیان میدارند. «فروم»، سپس نظریه ی خویش را، ارائه میدهند و میگویند: «انسان، ناخودآگاه، هماره در حال گریز، از آزادی خویشتن است، او تلاش میکند، تا نادانسته، آزادی خود را محدود کند». «فروم» سپس مکانیزمهای گریز انسان از آزادی را بیان، و به شرح آنها میپردازند. و ...؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 09/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Existentialism has always fascinated me as the condemnation to freedom of mankind is such hard felt in society I'm living in. This book is quite an easy read when compared to Sartre's, Beauvoir's or Nietszche's. The willingness of choice, human act, and thinking has been deem sinful since the dawn of civilisation- Adam and Eva being ousted from Eden in the name of infringement of Gods will - to make the choice of having knowledge and ability to think. The powerlessness and insecurity of our generat Existentialism has always fascinated me as the condemnation to freedom of mankind is such hard felt in society I'm living in. This book is quite an easy read when compared to Sartre's, Beauvoir's or Nietszche's. The willingness of choice, human act, and thinking has been deem sinful since the dawn of civilisation- Adam and Eva being ousted from Eden in the name of infringement of Gods will - to make the choice of having knowledge and ability to think. The powerlessness and insecurity of our generation is so overwhelming that we turn to common believes and try so hard to fit into the norms that we barely know who we are, why we live and how to live. As the fall of the churchs gives rise to a new authority which exerts nfluences on our wants and acts in a way we hardly aware. Education means to produce cogs for the great machine of capitalism, with the least emphasis of inviduality and thinking. We think we have freedom but which is so supercially confined to the limited choices we make in our daily lifes, which movie to watch, which job to take. The cheap and shallow excitement comes at the expense of the flattened and insensitive thinking of any individual. We become numb to rules, we take discomforts as a must to the means of survival, and worst of all- that we are so dependent on the given values ( capabitily, money, status) to form our identities. Powerlessness and insecurity are contagious that we rely so much on the groups we involve ourselves in. Being with parties of equal grounding makes us feel more real and safer at the expense of the chance of one being himself. But these mere social bondings only feed him with temporary and supeficial redemption that he will always feel alone with the minimal chance of being recognised of who he really is. The aloneness will never cease until the one chooses to live a life according to his genuine will. So pathetic is our generation that we dont think- we take in the dose without knowing whats wrapped inside the sweet-coloured coating. Human- I see as living animal which sustains the growth of intelligence of a mankind that is disruptive and distructive to our humane sense, like technology is isolating people from each other, fabricated machines exile people to wonderland, market creates our needs - the essence of mankind - what makes us human is dwindling and withering. We spend all our lives to get 'what we want', but without knowing who we are, how dare we are to uphold such a notable notions. Looking at the way we judge and value things, rationality is now defined as - the insanity seen in the past or hopefully non sense to be judged by the future, if by any chance people will think again. We crave because we see ourselves lacking. That is a sickness, anyone sees?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maica

    Fromm approached the theme of freedom on a multi-perspective basis, drawing insights from historical events, religious dogmas, economic movements, socio-biological and anthropological relationships, and psychological phenomena in understanding how in humanity's quest for freedom and individuality, the price paid is the burden of isolation and alienation - if he has no genuine end on what to do with his new-found 'freedom'. Which then results in a back-and-forth process of seeking back the lost s Fromm approached the theme of freedom on a multi-perspective basis, drawing insights from historical events, religious dogmas, economic movements, socio-biological and anthropological relationships, and psychological phenomena in understanding how in humanity's quest for freedom and individuality, the price paid is the burden of isolation and alienation - if he has no genuine end on what to do with his new-found 'freedom'. Which then results in a back-and-forth process of seeking back the lost sense of belongingness through submission to a higher authority exemplified in the sado-masochistic personality - a seemingly contradictory characteristic of individuals who seek domination over others and/or submission to someone/something higher in authority. What is striking was Fromm's drawing of examples from personalities who exhibited these negative characteristics of sadism and masochism from each of the aforementioned perspectives: Luther and Calvin, Hitler - and examined them on the context of their work and the impact they made on whom they exerted influence to. The mechanism of the new market seemed to resemble the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, which taught that the individual must make every effort to be good, but that even before his birth, it had been decided whether or not he is to be saved. His view of the phenomena of humanity's alienation and finding ways to escape from the burden of freedom was deeply depressing because he forces the reader to confront the facts, especially on humanity's inability to take responsibility for oneself by either resorting to domination or subjugation. Supplementary Review

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Certainly of all the nonfiction I've read this year, I would recommend Escape From Freedom above all others. This is my first time reading Fromm and I'm thoroughly impressed. This work addresses topics which are very important to me: individuality, authoritarianism, freedom and how it all relates to our modern, democratic society. Fromm draws a causal link between the freedom gained for the individual in the transition to modernity, and the reactionary rise of the authoritarian personality. Fromm Certainly of all the nonfiction I've read this year, I would recommend Escape From Freedom above all others. This is my first time reading Fromm and I'm thoroughly impressed. This work addresses topics which are very important to me: individuality, authoritarianism, freedom and how it all relates to our modern, democratic society. Fromm draws a causal link between the freedom gained for the individual in the transition to modernity, and the reactionary rise of the authoritarian personality. Fromm brings into his analysis many of the social issues addressed in our contemporary media: the coercion to conform, the desire to be a part of "something greater," the loss of authentic thought and action all emerge as consequences of what he calls "the escape from freedom." The book is roughly divided into three portions: first is a history of the transition from medieval to modern society, then an analysis of the psychological factors at work in contemporary society, and finally a dissection of authoritarian societies with a vision of potential alternatives. Fromm's basic thesis is that in moving from a regimented, organic medieval society to the comparatively open capitalist society, the individual is placed in an uncertain, possibly frightening state of freedom. This freedom creates a basic psychic tension that the individual then seeks to alleviate through various methods which can be commonplace, neurotic, or empowering. The whole thing is, for Fromm, analogous to the process of individuation as described by Jung. The youth grows and leaves the nest, by necessity during the emergence of an individual self, which exposes him or her to the dangers and responsibilities of self-directed life. This is the tale of the fall from grace, Adam and Eve ejected from Eden. Similarly, the medieval life represented for people a closer integration with nature and society, womb-like; Fromm even argues that death didn't represent the terrible boogeyman as it does today, being as this was before the creation of the individual as such. Capitalist society, on the other hand, forces the individual to decide upon his or her own life, creates a freedom of motion and fluidity of social stations, and subjects one's livelihood to the whim of the marketplace. The emergence of early capitalist society is then matched by the emergence of Protestantism (Luther and Calvin), created in response to the changing psychological landscape of modernity. These religions, argues Fromm, attempt to reverse or negate the emergence of the individual by offering psychological / spiritual coping strategies. That this directly leads to the so-called protestant work ethic which enabled the further development of capitalism was precisely Weber's much-celebrated thesis. An important distinction by Fromm here is that religions and worldviews aren't reached by sober, rational reasoning (as early modern philosophers would maintain), but instead arise in response to psychological conflicts, created in part by our social modes. However, it doesn't end with Protestantism. In contemporary times, one may attempt to flee the responsibility of individuality by recourse to authoritarianism, sadism, and/or masochism, which restore concrete social order ("a place for everything, and everything in its place") but which can never fully or satisfactorily resolve the inner conflict, since nothing can reverse the physical or social condition of individuation. One of the many things I absolutely loved about this book was that Fromm was writing right around the start of WWII, though before there was widespread public knowledge of the holocaust, yet he did not need evidence of war crimes to seriously indict the society of Nazi Germany. Today there is a tendency to retroactively focus on the ghastly results of the Nazi regime (the holocaust, the world war), but to Fromm the evil of the Nazi regime was already obvious. That Nazi society was perverse and authoritarian, with its worship of strength and contempt for the weak, with more sympathy for power than for justice, was sufficient in itself for Fromm to see that no good could come of it. There is just so much good material in this book, I can't possibly touch on it all. It ties together so many disparate portions of my own thought, and gives voice to so many ideas and feelings that I wasn't sure anyone else had. Central to this is the notion of the authentic: being true to one's own deeply-held feelings, not hiding them or replacing them with what one "should feel."Actual, original, and true expressions of one's own real, original, human self: that which flows naturally from children, before it's beaten out of them by peers and by school. The alternative is to police oneself along social lines, replacing self-expression with cold conformity. Every one of these small, daily injustices is an affront to the self, and with sufficient repetition, they kill the heart. Fromm discusses the interplay of these forces within contemporary society, and their emergence as a consequence of our social organization. He ends on a positive note, explaining how all of these reactionary postures can be avoided by rising to the challenge of individuation, growing as a person, and not surrendering one's self. Fromm suggests that the common picture of good mental health may simply be nothing more than successful adaptation to a sick society; the neurotic, however malajusted, has refused to do so. This anticipates the transition of psychiatry from Freud's position to Marcuse's, and some of Deleuze and Guattari's themes. Anyway, the whole thing is quite easily readable if a little repetitious at times. The analysis of contemporary society can be a bit dated and obvious to the modern reader. Fromm's psychology carries a bit of Freud with it, which while not fatal to his argument, is perhaps unnecessary. It's a quick read, and I thoroughly recommend it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Huyen

    My rating of this book varies from one chapter to another. The first chapters explaining the attempts of Lutherism and Calvinism to fill the void freedom created during the early era of capitalism were good. Basically, when the feudal system was being replaced by capitalism, man was more free, but also more isolated and insecure. The solution offered by Protestanism was total submission to God and work as a means of searching for a sign of salvation. That laid the groundwork for the unhealthy me My rating of this book varies from one chapter to another. The first chapters explaining the attempts of Lutherism and Calvinism to fill the void freedom created during the early era of capitalism were good. Basically, when the feudal system was being replaced by capitalism, man was more free, but also more isolated and insecure. The solution offered by Protestanism was total submission to God and work as a means of searching for a sign of salvation. That laid the groundwork for the unhealthy mentality of submission or domination as the panacea for the isolation and aloneness in the modern time. The middle part of the book where Fromm analyses the modern society is not quite original (possibly because his argument has been so popular that I've come across it too many times) and quite repetitive. (the words isolations/ powerlessness/ insignificant were used 3 times per page, which makes them really insignificant/ powerless). In the chapter about the psychology of Fascism, his remark that "as a matter of fact, certain features were characteristic of the middle class: their love of the strong, their hatred of the weak, their pettiness, their hostility" was quite unfounded and arbitrary. The last chapter on democracy and freedom was the best one. I didn't expect Fromm to provide a solution to the miserable state of the modern man, but surprisingly he does. His answer sounds reasonable, attainable and inspirational.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom, published in 1941, has a good deal in common with Eric Hoffer's postwar The True Believer.  Like Hoffer, Fromm was trying to understand the power and appeal of fascism. The main point of agreement between the two authors, I think, is that what appears to be unshakeable conviction is often an act of desperation, or what Fromm calls a "mechanism of escape."  To paraphrase David Foster Wallace, who knew something about compulsivity and whom I can't help thinking m Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom, published in 1941, has a good deal in common with Eric Hoffer's postwar The True Believer.  Like Hoffer, Fromm was trying to understand the power and appeal of fascism. The main point of agreement between the two authors, I think, is that what appears to be unshakeable conviction is often an act of desperation, or what Fromm calls a "mechanism of escape."  To paraphrase David Foster Wallace, who knew something about compulsivity and whom I can't help thinking may have read this book, we are all dying to give ourselves away to something, anything, and what that thing turns out to be may be more a matter of accident than is generally assumed.  The view on which I think Fromm and Hoffer would basically agree isn't exactly incompatible with those I find most often on my Facebook feed, attributed to followers of a certain modern mass movement- that many (or all, it's sometimes claimed) of them are motivated by sexism, or racism, or this or that easily condemnable factor- but also suggests that a movement inspired by a talented demagogue is capable of accommodating a much wider range of psychological needs, including the need to give away the burden of individuality.  Hoffer's book goes on to describe the common features of movements.  In Wallace, and in a lot of literature, one may infer the viewpoint that this impulse is metaphysical, spiritual, inherent to and inseparable from human life.  Fromm diverges from them in where he locates the sources of this impulse. For Fromm, human characteristics and impulses are not inherent, but neither are they determined wholly by the environment.  Rather, each (the individual and the environment) has its own dynamism, and it's this push-and-pull that influences human personality, which in turn acts on and is acted upon by what I think can broadly be called history.  Fromm traces the origin of this urge to give away one's freedom to the Renaissance- the end of feudalism and the beginning of modern individuality:In having a distinct, unchangeable, and unquestionable place in the social world from the moment of birth, man was rooted...and thus life had a meaning which left no place, and no need, for doubt. A person was identical with his role in society; he was a peasant, an artisan, a knight, and not an individual who happened to have this or that occupation....Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporaton- only through some general category.There is no way to return to this state of being, nor would Fromm suggest that we should try- he just goes on to point out that freedom is a double-edged sword, and that all the good it has done human beings has been accompanied by unprecedented burdens. In the new Europe that gradually came into being, life was uncertain, and you survived, or didn't, on your own.  Soon enough, Fromm writes, there were reactions to this new state of being in the forms of movements led by two of the book's main villains, Luther and Calvin.  Fromm isn't too pushy about it, but he frequently invites the reader to draw analogies between processes in society and in the individual psyche; the popularity of Luther and Calvin in Fromm's view are probably analogous to neuroses, their movements mechanisms of escape in which people found catharsis in the supposed virtue of tireless work, or in the conviction that it had all been decided before you were born anyway and it was impossible to know or change your fate, or in giving up your autonomy to an all-powerful God who may just as easily have been a Fuhrer. Just as in a neurotic personality, however, the chosen mechanism of escape, while perhaps temporarily ameliorating pain, has its unforeseen side-effects:One possible way to escape this unbearable state of uncertainty...is the very trait which became so prominent in Calvinism: the development of a frantic activity and a striving to do something. Activity in this sense assumes a compulsory quality...[this] is not the result of inner strength and self-confidence; it is a desperate escape from anxiety.So it is essentially Fromm's view that a neurosis transformed work from a pragmatic necessity to the essence of human life, and laid fertile ground and psychologically prepared people for modern capitalism; similarly, unquestioning obedience to a deity may prepare people for the same orientation towards other figures of authority. Fromm explains his ideas in much more clarity and depth, but maybe this can serve as an adumbration of the way he views history. A given set of societal circumstances molds a certain kind of human being; these human beings react against their new circumstances, but often in a way that obscures the problem without resolving it, resulting in unforeseen and accidental consequences which in turn become the new circumstances that will both act on human beings and be reacted against...and the cycle continues.  I don't know that this is true, but it seems at least worth thinking about and discussing.  There's a pleasing elegance and simplicity to Fromm's view: there is no outside force that needs to be believed in here, no teleology or spirits, no lizard people controlling things, just us, bumbling along and reincarnating ourselves over and over, accident compounding accident. It makes me think of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Mercer, Elon Musk, the physicists who split the atom, whoever decided to start burning fossil fuels, the developers of virtual reality...people who have all in some sense set events into motion, and yet each such event or action plays a partial, not a decisive, role in the world that's coming into being. Furthermore, such people cannot predict (and probably have very little control over) the ways in which what they've done will influence human beings in general, nor how human beings will react to these changes.  The need for relief from the burden of freedom brings us to the authoritarian character, its most relevant variant in Fromm's view defined by its poles of sadism and masochism.  This might be where it starts to sound a little weird, but it kind of makes sense to me- both sadism and masochism, in Fromm's view, are compulsive efforts to escape the self.  A sadist, after all, is just as dependent on his or her masochistic partner as vice-versa; the relevant feature of such relationships, according to Fromm, as opposed to those which are healthy (let's assume for the sake of argument that such things exist) is symbiosis, dependency.  Fromm claims furthermore that not only are masochism and sadism opposite sides of the same coin, but that both characteristics are always present in the same individual, consciously or unconsciously, to a greater or lesser degree. This seemed pretty counter-intuitive to me at first, but consider the crowd at an authoritarian leader's mass rally- the people satisfy their masochistic impulses by in some sense submitting to the leader, losing their individuality in the crowd, being reduced to nothing (and maybe it's not such a different impulse that brings people to concerts and sports events), but the leader also incites their sadistic impulses- towards Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, whomever the enemy happens to be.  And the leader is just as dependent on the audience he spends his life playing to. Trump, for example, gives away his psychological need in just about every single thing he says and does, but maybe never more clearly than with the fantasy, expressed on occasion to his crowds, that CNN or some other network, terrified by the rightness of what he's saying, is turning off its cameras in the middle of the broadcast even as he, Trump, speaks...that the red lights, one by one, are going dark. And it's only when that last light goes dark that Trump wakes up in a cold sweat. Hitler, Fromm writes, is sadistic- okay, no surprise there- but also masochistic, in the sense that he also feels himself in thrall to irresistible forces, he too possessed by the wishes to destroy and to be destroyed:This whole preaching of self-sacrifice has an obvious purpose: the masses have to resign themselves and submit if the wish for power on the side of the leader and the 'elite' is to be realized. But this masochistic longing is also to be found in Hitler himself. For him the superior power to which he submits is God, Fate, Necessity, History, Nature. Actually all these terms have about the same meaning to him, that of symbols of an overwhelmingly strong power...Nature is the great power we have to submit to [Hitler believes], but living beings are the ones we should dominate.------ One of the most interesting (and kind of disturbing) things about Fromm's analysis is something so clear and obvious that I almost never consciously think about it- that a mechanism of escape can be just about anything. Or rather, that everything has the potential to be a mechanism of escape, as well as the potential to be...something else. To return to Wallace for a second, I'm reminded of the passage from Infinite Jest about what you learn in a halfway house:That sleeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused...That purposeful sleep-deprivation can also be an abusable escape. That gambling can be an abusable escape, too, and work, shopping, and shoplifting, and sex, and abstention, and masturbation, and food, and exercise, and meditation/prayer...What is that "something else", then? It appears a few times throughout Fromm's book, each time flitting away like a doorway to Hellenic Greece that opens and closes before you have a chance to walk through it. It might be, for example, for a human being to "...relate himself spontaneously to the world in love and work, in the genuine expression of his emotional, sensuous and intellectual capacities." The steps one should take or actual habits to cultivate in order to live in such a way are not clear to me, and would perhaps require years of intensive psychotherapy with Mr. Fromm, which I would gladly try if he were alive and I could afford it. But applied to the discussion of fascism, I think that what I find most relevant about this view, most pragmatic really, is that it refuses to draw a comforting line between "us" and "them", which is important perhaps not because it is a way of being charitable to people who disagree, but because it reminds us of our own susceptibilities. Fromm published this book in 1941, and it's difficult for me to imagine anyone suggesting that the alienation Fromm is talking about hasn't become much more profound, to the point that it is such an established feature of modern life that it's almost never thought about; when it is thought about, it's as both a kind of a joke, a cliche, and as something metaphysical, a spiritual condition, going by words like "dread" or "ennui." And frankly I think it may as well be, because economic and social conditions over the course of a lifetime become, for all intents and purposes, existential conditions. Some of Fromm's examples of alienating features of life in 1941 can sound both eerily familiar and laughably benign by modern standards:Vastness of cities in which the individual is lost, buildings that are as high as mountains, constant acoustic bombardment by the radio, big headlines that change three times a day and leaving one no choice to decide what is important...the beating rhythm of jazz......The part about jazz is perhaps reaching. But this seems like a valid excuse for me to insert a personal anecdote here about how I read most of this book while I was in Tbilisi, staying in a hostel with a strange collection of drifters for $3.50 US per night, as 2017 slowly dwindled. Hostels are not known for being conducive to concentration, so I would bring this book with me when I went for walks around the city; I attempted to read part of it, specifically the chapter on the authoritarian character and mechanisms of escape, in a Dunkin' Donuts on Rustaveli Avenue, the main street in Tbilisi. While it was after December 25th, perhaps the 26th or 27th, I hadn't reckoned with the fact that Christmas in Georgia is January 7th. This was therefore high Christmas season, and high time for Dunkin' Donuts to play Christmas music, quite loudly, in English no less, and so as I tried to read about the authoritarian character and take unmediated masochistic pleasure in the most unpleasant aspects of my personality laid out so clearly on the page, I simultaneously found myself fighting a generalized violent and sadistic impulse that welled up from the very core of my being as a part of my brain helplessly followed along to the music ("jingle bells", a voice on the sound system chimed inanely as I tried to understand Fromm's definition of the masochistic personality, "Batman smells, Robin laid an egg...") which only in retrospect seemed a negligible annoyance yet appropriate and relevant to Fromm's theme- we in the cafe were not to be left alone for a second with our coffee and our own thoughts, not allowed to take a deep breath in a quiet place between the past and the future, anything but that- that burden was lifted from us as a matter of course, without our even having had to ask. Of greater concern, admittedly, is that we seem to be confronted with an unprecedented powerlessness- the destruction of the natural world and therefore civilization as we're familiar with it, perhaps within the next few generations (about 100 years, according to Stephen Hawking), which, as a friend of mine put it recently, is "pretty depressing." I suppose it's also a reminder that life as each of us experiences it is always unprecedented. This is a reality that has only slowly appeared in the background of conversations with friends (not co-workers or employers or acquaintances, however, and I also manage to avoid breaking down in tears and discussing it with the young Russian children I tutor- daily life and work retains for now the same unassailable quality, as if things could never be any other way), but which will certainly become more unavoidable in the years and decades to come. Who can anticipate the mechanisms of escape that may have to be employed to avoid confronting it? Maybe I should try to end on a positive note, so I'll give the last word to Fromm:...any attack on Germany as such, any defamatory propaganda concerning 'the Germans', only increases the loyalty of those who are not wholly identified with the Nazi system. This problem, however, cannot be solved basically by skillful propaganda but only by the victory in all countries of one fundamental truth: that ethical principles stand above the existence of the nation and that by adhering to these principles an individual belongs to the community of all those who share, who have shared, and will share this belief.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    Staggering. Brilliant start to finish. Fromm was a genius. Sadly though... If you swap concerns regarding the cold war for catastrophic global climate change, then..... This book could have been written yesterday. Winston Churchill famously said “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I would add (if I may) “and sometimes, so are those who do”. My point being: Just because you know history and have learned from it, doesn’t mean your neighbor has. Just because you know history an Staggering. Brilliant start to finish. Fromm was a genius. Sadly though... If you swap concerns regarding the cold war for catastrophic global climate change, then..... This book could have been written yesterday. Winston Churchill famously said “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I would add (if I may) “and sometimes, so are those who do”. My point being: Just because you know history and have learned from it, doesn’t mean your neighbor has. Just because you know history and you have learned from it, doesn’t mean your neighbor has learned the same lessons from the same teachers, or wants the same outcomes. Finally, just because you know history, doesn’t automatically free you from the conditions that caused previous tragedy. Marx assumed that by knowing and deconstructing history, we could end the cycle of history. This ultimately remains to be seen. But so far, not so much. In fact: Sometimes knowing and deconstructing history equates to the experience of watching it’s tragic recapitulations unfold right before your eyes, like a reoccurring anxiety dream, where you’re essentially helpless to do anything except feel the horror. Regarding the original quote. Churchill didn’t say it first. The quote was actually authored by writer and philosopher George Santayana, and originally read, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Again: The implication is, that by knowing the past, we are somehow freed from the psychotic merry-go-round of endless repetition. This was one of the spurious ideas that primitive psychoanalysis promoted. If we deconstruct our present through the lens of our personal history, we will be free to ‘love and work’ without ‘neurosis’. This is summarized in the phrase ‘name it to tame it’. Only: Naming it doesn’t always tame it. Sometimes we can name it, and the neurosis carries on business as usual. In such cases, we actually need to do more than just ‘know’ and ‘name’. We need to get off our asses and create second order change. First Order Change: Refers to superficial changes that do not disrupt the deeper causes e.g. ‘I’m going to try harder not to fall in that hole the next time I walk down that street.’ Second Order Change: Refers to structural changes that do disrupt the deeper causes. i.e. ‘I’m going to take an altogether different route.’ Fromm asserts that Freud was right about the psychosexual causes of the human character, but was blind to the ways that the deeper structures of society effect our psychology. Fromm asserts that Marx was right about the socioeconomic causes of human suffering and alienation in industrialized capitalism, but was blind to the psychological experiences of the individual. Escape From Freedom is Erich Fromm’s attempt at a synthesis of the two. The book explores themes of freedom and alienation, with a particular focus on deconstruction of the psychosocial conditions that facilitated the rise of Nazism. Suppression and Sublimation: In Freudian terms, suppression refers to the unhealthy denial of natural emotions and instinctive drives like anger and sexuality. Suppression is summarized in the ol’ AA witticism: ‘if you push your feelings down into the basement, they will get together, lift weights, and come back upstairs and kick your ass.’ Suppression functions internally, in the same way repression works at the level of society. You do it enough, and you get neurosis, violent upheaval and mass revolt. Sublimation refers to the effective channeling of emotions and instincts into some other, less harmful pursuit. Freud asserted that culture and society affords individuals the opportunity to channel unproductive, harmful or anti-social drives into productive, healthy, life affirming, pro-social goals e.g. channeling one’s anger and frustration into a good workout, or writing a novel, or volunteering for a greater cause. Fromm posits that if suppression within an individual or in a society is greater than the capacity for sublimation, than individuals and groups become neurotic. Dynamic adaptation refers to the way an individual psychology adapts to a system. Fromm asserts that individuals dynamically adapt to a capitalist system by consuming and working, not as a means to achieve happiness, but as an end in its self. Fromm posits that over satisfaction of the drives to consume and work results in the loss of culture, and the increase of neurosis i.e. feelings of emptiness, alienation, loneliness, lack of meaning, nihilism, lack of personal responsibility, contingent self-esteem, powerlessness, etc. If you need evidence of this assertion, spend 10 minutes watching Fox News, or surfing FaceBook, or reading YouTube comments, and then check in with how you feel afterwards. Fromm’s basic critique of Freud is that human psychology may be very different in a collectivist vs. capitalist system, and proposes psychologically informed societal level systemic change as an important area of intervention. Fromm integrates Freud and Marx in what he calls Social Psychology, but what may more accurately be thought of as Socialist Psychoanalysis. Freedoms Aren’t Free: Fromm identifies two kinds of freedom. 1. Freedom From (negative freedom) refers to the emancipation from stultifying social conventions. 2. Freedom To (positive freedom) refers to the enlightened pursuit of what matters, and posits that connection, creativity and being of service are the things that matter. Fromm argues that Freedom From is relatively easily accomplished. But Freedom To takes inner work and communal support. He goes on to argue that Freedom From stultifying social conventions, without Freedom To connect, create and be of service to something larger than ones self, leaves us feeling hopeless and alone, and vulnerable to authoritarian ideologies and charismatic leaders that function psychologically to pacify our anxious uncertainties. Protestantism and Fascism: Fromm asserts that leaders (particularly charismatic leaders) mirror the latent psychology (Freud) and means of production (Marx) of the followers they attract. Fromm begins his historical psychosocial critique of fascism, with a critique of the protestant reformations of Luther and Calvin. Fromm asserts that these movements were particularly appealing to the conservative middle and working class of the day, who resented the florid excesses of the Catholic church and aristocratic classes, but also sought protection from the poor. Fromm paints Luther as both masochistic and authoritarian and consequently highly ambivalent regarding authority. He proposes that Luther was simultaneously resentful of injustice, and punitive regarding decadence of all sorts, while concurrently being highly submissive to the paternalistic ‘authority’ of god. Fromm posits that Calvinism shared many of the same features and taught that submission and humiliation were the fast track to purification and salvation. Fromm posits that the protestant movements attracted individuals with similar psychological proclivities and who were also from a social class that stood to benefit from a reformation. Fromm claims that protestant ideologies set the stage for the third reich. Hitler: After the great depression and the Great War, Hitler was able to capitalize on the hateful resentment and xenophobia of the middle, and working classes who were loosing status due to the economic and social conditions of the day, while concurrently offering wealthy industrialists unprecedented opportunities to bolster their wealth, and protection against populist bolshevik uprisings. Fromm asserts that Nazism was as much about radical opportunism as it was about racism and shrill ideology. In other words, poor and middle class people were hypnotized by their own racist, resentful denial, religious people were hypnotized by their conditioning and ideology, and rich people held their nose and went along for the ride for personal gain. One can’t help but draw a comparison to America 2016-2020. Advanced Capitalism: In a 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, Fromm claimed that America was the greatest civilization ever, and that it was doomed if it continued on the path it was on. Fromm asserted that the American injunction to keep working, consuming and reproducing was a formula for spiritual disaster. Fromm quipped that Soviet Russia controlled its citizens by force. And America did it by persuasion. Lastly, Fromm warns that if we don’t change our focus towards a more connected, nurturing and creative way of being, we will work, consume and reproduce our selves into a fiery pit of doom. Here and Now in America - 2020: We have swapped Fascist ideologies with Fox News and fourchan paranoia. We swapped Hitler for Twitler. And we swapped the Cold War for Global Warming. But despite ‘knowing’ our history. We’re still on the psychotic merry-go-round. The diagnosis was correct. But the prescription was left unfinished. Let’s hope we can learn and change, and collectively find our way to a different way.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mikael Lind

    Yes, this is still a very important book even though it was written in 1942. It is mainly focused on the concept of freedom from the medieval times to the period before WWII. He points to weaknesses both in the (at the time) communist East and capitalist West, but (not surprisingly) his fiercest critique is that of the nazi ideology and the kind of man that Goebbels and Hitler wanted to create (a subordinated, disciplined creature, with a lack of critical thinking, etc.). One thing in particular Yes, this is still a very important book even though it was written in 1942. It is mainly focused on the concept of freedom from the medieval times to the period before WWII. He points to weaknesses both in the (at the time) communist East and capitalist West, but (not surprisingly) his fiercest critique is that of the nazi ideology and the kind of man that Goebbels and Hitler wanted to create (a subordinated, disciplined creature, with a lack of critical thinking, etc.). One thing in particular is interesting in this book. Fromm makes it clear that human beings have certain traits that are in accord with their nature, but that these traits can be hidden to view - human beings can delude themselves and act against their own good, even though they believe that they are actually acting according to their free will. It's easy to see why Fromm clashed so much with behaviourists, but - even though some of Fromm's opinions, colored by those of his teacher Freud, are a bit outdated - it's easy for me to say that Fromm is definitely the winner and Skinner the loser. As Fromm points out, one can be fooled by a poison that tastes good but nonetheless kills you, and of course society can work in the same way as a whole. Look at how we mistreat our mother Earth and her natural resourses, endangering our whole species because whe want a certain material standard. That human beings want to preserve their own species is maybe not an objective fact, but it is still an ideal that one can contrast different lifestyles towards. Bottom line: Fromm's main point is that human beings want freedom - this is part of our nature. However, if society at large is a cold and unfriendly space, and our mental life is plagued with difficulties, many human beings tend to search for extreme solutions just to feel safer; they can't handle the freedom given to them and so authoritarian alternatives show their ugly faces. Still true today, so therefore I recommend this book to everyone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    عماد العتيلي

    ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ “The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self.”. Fromm is not an ordinary thinker, and his not an average writer. He is one of the best sociologists and literary critics I’ve ever known. In this book, he masterly discussed the problem of freedom – a problem I tried to understand and fatho ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ “The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self.”. Fromm is not an ordinary thinker, and his not an average writer. He is one of the best sociologists and literary critics I’ve ever known. In this book, he masterly discussed the problem of freedom – a problem I tried to understand and fathom properly over the previous two years. I have to say that Fromm made me understand it better, and he opened my eyes to a wide spectrum of explanations and theories concerning the Freedom issue. I’ve never considered this issue as clearly as now. Using simple language and smooth ideas, Fromm turned a very difficult subject into a piece of cake. HE IS GENIUS!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...). Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free, Here is a book that was recommended to me early in my grad school career, and for some reason I have put off reading it until now. (Studying for comps has pushed me to "get my reading on"...) I read this book in hopes of just reviewing some theory and getting Fromm's perspective. I did not expect to read it and be so engrossed (definitely didn't expect to read it in 2.5 days...). Fromm puts it out there that as humans, our desire for individual freedom is one that at the same time makes us free, also makes us alone. He states that the desire to be free and an individual thus makes us isolate and alone--which is not really what we want. We must some how reconcile these two forces...which is not easy. What I am taking from that portion of the book is that man must decide what is more individually important to him: The ability to say that he is free, and has his own ideas (but be alone)...or the safety that comes with conforming and working with others. He goes further to explain the history of personal freedoms, and the influence that religion (especially Luther and Calvin) has on shaping the modern man. The last portion of the book describes how the German people could allow themselves to be followers of a party like the Nazi party. (And yes, how the United States, even though we have a democracy, might be able to be dominated by a strong force like what national socialism did to Germany.) What impresses me I think the most about this book is when I look at the date it was written: 1941. A *LOT* of what Fromm states to be a problem facing man is the SAME as it is in 2011, 60 years later. Bombardment from advertisements, radio, film, billboards, depersonalization of our daily lives...it's strange to see that this has been underway for so long. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thinking...hopefully you do.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a fantastic book written decades ago but still relevant. What do we do with the freedom we have? If we look back a few centuries to the medieval era, we see people living in a structured society. There was little possibility for upward mobility and, for the most part, you had to stay in your station in life. Throughout the Reformation and into the modern age, we shook off these hierarchies and, as individuals and societies, became free. This freedom certainly has benefits. But Fromm argue This is a fantastic book written decades ago but still relevant. What do we do with the freedom we have? If we look back a few centuries to the medieval era, we see people living in a structured society. There was little possibility for upward mobility and, for the most part, you had to stay in your station in life. Throughout the Reformation and into the modern age, we shook off these hierarchies and, as individuals and societies, became free. This freedom certainly has benefits. But Fromm argues that as individuals became disconnected from the structures that once gave identity, this freedom also leads to angst and fear. We find ourselves adrift in a world, not sure where there is meaning or what we are to do. From this Fromm argues there is a fertile field for authoritarianism. Writing in the era of Hitler, Fromm spends a lot of time showing how people like Hitler could take advantage of the anxiety lower and middle class people feel to lead them to a purpose, albeit a horrible one. Much of the book is written to set up the last chapter. I think I ran my pen drying highlighting the last chapter. He talks about how we make choices we think are free but in reality are not as we have learned what we want from the culture around us. In other words, I think I freely choose something but I learned that I wanted that thing (money, power, fame, religion, education, etc.) from the world around me. In this his book dovetails nicely with Jacques Ellul's book Propoganda. His solution is for humans to be spontaneous, to dive into truly free choices. As a Christian, I most appreciated how this book fits with my Christian faith. One example is when he talks about love. Much that we call love is actually an elimination of separation which leads to submission (you love someone so you let them rule over you). He speaks of love as keeping the individuality while also becoming one in some way. This made me think of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (three separate persons in one God) which is the root of Christian love (loving the other as an individual while becoming one). Also, when he asked the question how you know what choices are good, or truly free, and which are following culture or becoming subject to authoritarians, he basically said the good is self-evident. In other words, if something is done for true goodness or beauty then it is a work of true freedom. Again, as a Christian, I believe all good points to God as the ultimate good. This book was not difficult to read though the concepts are certainly challenging. There is so much here and even though it was written decades ago, it remains relevant as authoritarians still seek to gain power and many of us still struggle with how to find meaning in the midst of being free. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    A great look at both the economic, political, and social conditions under which freedom flourishes as well as the psychological mechanisms that impede or encourage individuals to either gain and use or to abandon their own autonomy. While he doesn't use this language, I think that he describes well what others refer to as "colonization of the mind." The solutions offered at the very end of the book for what a society would look like that fully embraced freedom (Fromm suggests a state-based planne A great look at both the economic, political, and social conditions under which freedom flourishes as well as the psychological mechanisms that impede or encourage individuals to either gain and use or to abandon their own autonomy. While he doesn't use this language, I think that he describes well what others refer to as "colonization of the mind." The solutions offered at the very end of the book for what a society would look like that fully embraced freedom (Fromm suggests a state-based planned economy) don't seem to me well thought out or worthwhile, and in fact, contradict many of the points he makes throughout his main argument. I think this is a failure for him to move beyond the general liberalism shaping his sense of political possibilities at the time. But I think it also represents an overemphasis on the individual nature of humans, and little attention to the communal nature of all human life. A free society seems as though it would be that which constantly sought to find ways in which individual dependence and communal interdependence are not only balanced, but help one another to exist in good and life-affirming ways. Centralized planned economies don't seem to me to be the right tool for that. Anyone know if someone has taken Fromm's main points about psychology and freedom and used it to argue for much more radical political and economic structures? It seems like the potential is definitely there.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ева Нешкоска

    "The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self." Unexpectedly, fascinating book. Even though it was little bit out of my comfort zone. It made me wonder a lot about us humans. Are we really that superior or as Dostoevsky said "Man is stupid, you know, phenomenally stupid." "The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self." Unexpectedly, fascinating book. Even though it was little bit out of my comfort zone. It made me wonder a lot about us humans. Are we really that superior or as Dostoevsky said "Man is stupid, you know, phenomenally stupid."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Although I'd read quite a bit of Fromm already and had heard some of his radio lectures, I hadn't yet read his early Escape from Freedom (aka Fear of Freedom). Since it was one of the books on the core list of the "great books" college my youngest stepbrother was attending in Waukegan, Illinois and since I was hoping for a job there, I picked out the old copy on the bookshelf and read it quickly one afternoon at Panini Panini, a cafe on North Sheridan Road here in East Rogers Park, Chicago. I was Although I'd read quite a bit of Fromm already and had heard some of his radio lectures, I hadn't yet read his early Escape from Freedom (aka Fear of Freedom). Since it was one of the books on the core list of the "great books" college my youngest stepbrother was attending in Waukegan, Illinois and since I was hoping for a job there, I picked out the old copy on the bookshelf and read it quickly one afternoon at Panini Panini, a cafe on North Sheridan Road here in East Rogers Park, Chicago. I wasn't impressed. Generalized psychological approaches to sociological topics are not very interesting because they are usually very obvious and usually not challenging. Perhaps when the book was first published in 1941, while both Freud and Hitler were still about, when psychoanalysis was still current and war was raging in Europe and Asia, perhaps then it would have been provocative or insightful.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This may be the most important book about humanity I've read. It's overwhelmingly insightful and I am awed by Fromm's ability to put into words what I've only felt around the edges in my life. Yes, it's repetitive at times, but that only serves to hammer home the philosophies and ideas that other authors make opaque. A must read. This may be the most important book about humanity I've read. It's overwhelmingly insightful and I am awed by Fromm's ability to put into words what I've only felt around the edges in my life. Yes, it's repetitive at times, but that only serves to hammer home the philosophies and ideas that other authors make opaque. A must read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    hissi

    The fear of freedom - Man was dominated by the rules of nature. Then man ruled it.. as a society.. and with societies rising.. the individual was oppressed. Under the unjust.. He as an individual empowered the group.. after the religion ruled.. it was perished. And man as a unit.. ruled over all.. So the man as a person.. Foolishly gave in for the society.. because he needed the society. For food, for protection and a lot of things he alone cannot master or fathom all at once.. for the fear that i The fear of freedom - Man was dominated by the rules of nature. Then man ruled it.. as a society.. and with societies rising.. the individual was oppressed. Under the unjust.. He as an individual empowered the group.. after the religion ruled.. it was perished. And man as a unit.. ruled over all.. So the man as a person.. Foolishly gave in for the society.. because he needed the society. For food, for protection and a lot of things he alone cannot master or fathom all at once.. for the fear that it will consume and weaken him.. the culture he lived in.. gave him what he needed.. Expecting him to be part of the help. But never barring that burden alone.. You are mistaken if you think that man is a social person.. he was born anti social.. he doesn’t want the group.. he NEEDS it.. and there’s a big difference between the two. The full realization of positive freedom is based upon the uniqueness and individuality of man The most dangerous of all is the power of one individual to suppress the will-less population of a nation.. One man vs. men.. (for example Hitler: who achieved this by trickery and cunning) The masses were as eager to surrender their freedom as their fathers were to fight for it. The wanted to escape it. We’re not talking about Germany as a nation.. but as the individual.. that’s the purpose of the book.. Why freedom is a goal and a threat!? Well viewing freedom as a threat or a way of life.. is a product of the social process. They weren’t implanted in our genes. Culture sculpted our concept of freedom,. So society doesn’t do the suppressing only.. it creates the fear of freedom itself..\ Creating Suppressing Mans nature, passions and anxieties are a cultural product. This book took some of Freud principles.. like the individual is anti social. One paragraph I felt like I could relate to it.. “… he adapts himself to the necessities of the situation, something happens in him. He may develop an intense hostility against his father which he represses. Since it would be too dangerous to express it or even be aware of it. This repressed hostility, however, though not manifest, is a dynamic factor in his character structure. It may create new anxiety and thus lead to still deeper submission. It may set up a vague defiance directed against no one in particular but rather towards life in general..” What is it that forces man to adapt himself to almost any conceivable condition of life.. Man is always in need.. he needs satisfaction.. Common needs like food and drink.. and the other needs than sets us apart.. this is caused by culture in general. And economic and social system.. Why is it that even when we live among people we’re still overcomed by the utter feeling of isolation? Where is that sense of “belonging”? This is what we call it Moral loneliness which is as intolerable as physical loneliness.. The monk who’s praying to god.. the political prisoner who’s one with his supporters aren’t morally lonely.. even though they’re physically by themselves.. and this really tells us just how strongly moral company is to a man.. why do we fear freedom? When the individual cuts the cord of culture. The environment that gives him “safety” in the sense of belonging. He won’t have any security. Once the stage of complete individuation is reached and the individual is free from these primary ties, he is confronted with a new task: to orient and root himself in the world and to find security in other ways than those which were characteristic of his pre-individualistic existence. Freedom then has a different meaning from the one it had before this stage of evolution is reached. Jim Morrison: “How can I set free anyone who doesn't have the guts to stand up alone and declare his own freedom? I think it's a lie – people claim they want to be free – everybody insists that freedom is what they want the most, the most sacred and precious thing a man can possess. But that's bullshit! People are terrified to be set free – they hold on to their chains. They fight anyone who tries to break those chains. It's their security…How can they expect me or anyone else to set them free if they don't really want to be free?” Im sorry. There’s a lot of things to be said.. but I have no energy to type.. ^_^ if this gets u motivated to read u can refer to the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan Johnson

    Erich Fromm (1900-80) was a famous psychoanalyst and social psychologist who wrote several important books on history, psychology, ethics, and political philosophy. Although influenced by Freud, he disagreed with his famous predecessor on several important issues. Escape from Freedom was first published in 1941. At this time Hitler had taken over much of continental Europe with the further objectives of conquering England and the Soviet Union. World War II was raging, but the United States did no Erich Fromm (1900-80) was a famous psychoanalyst and social psychologist who wrote several important books on history, psychology, ethics, and political philosophy. Although influenced by Freud, he disagreed with his famous predecessor on several important issues. Escape from Freedom was first published in 1941. At this time Hitler had taken over much of continental Europe with the further objectives of conquering England and the Soviet Union. World War II was raging, but the United States did not enter the war until after the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Fromm, who was of Jewish descent, fled Germany after Hitler came to power; he moved to the United States in 1934, where he resided at the time he wrote this work. Fromm’s book contains an interesting discussion of the rise of modernity from the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, every individual had an established place, and economic institutions existed for the support of people rather than for profit. The greed that sought after more and more money was considered a sin by the Church, which had considerable influence over government and society. However, this medieval regime was upset by modernity, beginning with the Renaissance. Capitalist theory and practice resulted in the uprooting of traditional ties and the pursuit of money for its own sake. In the new society, people became individual economic actors, subject to the vagaries of supply and demand. Having obtained freedom from medieval regulation, people had to try to survive, economically, in a very competitive environment. The loss of traditional community ties led many to attempt to restore some sense of belonging and security by losing themselves in authoritarian political and religious movements. This “escape from freedom” afflicted all of modernity, culminating in the rise of fascism and Nazism that Fromm witnessed in his own time. He described its particular manifestation in Nazi Germany as follows:Hitler proved to be such an efficient tool because he combined the characteristics of a resentful, hating, petty bourgeois, with whom the lower middle class could identify themselves emotionally and socially, with those of an opportunist who was ready to serve the interests of the German industrialists and Junkers. Originally he posed as the Messiah of the old middle class, promised the destruction of department stores, the breaking of the domination of banking capital, and so on. The record is clear enough. These promises were never fulfilled. However, that did not matter. Nazism never had any genuine political or economic principles. It is essential to understand that the very principle of Nazism is its radical opportunism. What mattered was that hundreds of thousands of petty bourgeois, who in the normal course of development had little chance to gain money or power, as members of the Nazi bureaucracy now got a large slice of the wealth and prestige they forced the upper classes to share with them. Others who were not members of the Nazi machine were given the jobs taken away from Jews and political enemies; and as for the rest, although they did not get more bread, they got “circuses.” The emotional satisfaction afforded by these sadistic spectacles and by an ideology which gave them a feeling of superiority over the rest of mankind was able to compensate them—for a time at least—for the fact that their lives had been impoverished, economically and culturally. (Escape from Freedom , Kindle edition, 218-19)I first read Escape from Freedom in the 1960s. I just finished my second reading of this work. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all the details of Fromm’s analysis, I think many of his arguments have merit. Moreover, this understanding has obvious applications to international populist authoritarian movements in our own time. As Fromm observed, the authoritarian personality has both sadistic and masochistic manifestations. The “leader” is mostly sadistic, but even a leader such as Hitler thought he was serving “fate” or some Social Darwinist version of God or the gods (cf. Nietzsche’s Übermensch [“Superman”]). The followers are mostly masochistic, but even they exhibit sadistic tendencies against disfavored and marginalized groups as well as those under them in the fascist hierarchy. My main question about Fromm’s analysis is whether all of this can be traced directly back to the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity, as he argues, or whether it is just a more general feature of human nature as it is manifested in many individuals. Perhaps present-day psychologists should undertake massive case studies of individuals drawn to authoritarian movements in an attempt to discover the roots of this antisocial attraction and the extent, if any, that they can be attributed to the historical circumstances emphasized by Fromm. Note: This book was written more than thirty years before writers and editors in English became sensitive to the importance of gender-neutral language. Thus, for example, Fromm frequently used the word “man” as a synonym for “human being.” Although grating to twenty-first-century readers (including myself), such was the universal custom among English speakers and writers at that time, and one can just mentally replace such terms with gender-neutral words. Alan E. Johnson January 5, 2020

  18. 4 out of 5

    K.A. Ashcomb

    Erich Fromm is a great thinker and writer. When I read his The Sane Society, my view about human life, the world, and society was transformed. I expected the same from Escape from Freedom, and it didn't disappoint. How could it? The book has been in print and read over and again since 1941 when it first came out. Escape from Freedom is an amazing book meant to make us think over what we consider as freedom and ask if we are as free as we think? And if we are, then why are we so unhappy with our Erich Fromm is a great thinker and writer. When I read his The Sane Society, my view about human life, the world, and society was transformed. I expected the same from Escape from Freedom, and it didn't disappoint. How could it? The book has been in print and read over and again since 1941 when it first came out. Escape from Freedom is an amazing book meant to make us think over what we consider as freedom and ask if we are as free as we think? And if we are, then why are we so unhappy with our lives? This is not a self-help book, but comparative research into history backed up with sociology, social psychology, and psychology. This said, there were places where the argumentation felt iffy and took huge leaps when stating correlations and truths how the world is. But the historical comparison convinced me. It was the core of the book, showing how concepts like individuality, freedom, duty, and self have changed. And while we think peasants under a feudal rule were less free than us, the truth is more surprising. Erich Fromm argues that the change from the feudal society into capitalism (during Renaissance) has alienated men from each other and from their families, making us, yes, more individualistic, but also more alone and responsible of things we cannot control like chance and bad luck. He argues that the freedoms we think we have gained aren't as free as we like to think. That we are being shaped by commercials, influential people and their opinions, and social pressure (norms). So what we think, what we want, and who we are depend on this faceless others through things like newspapers. He also argues that capitalism has shifted our focus solely on gaining money, making us obsessed, unhappy and alienated.  I could go on and on about the book and argue against it or for it. It is informative, eye-opening, and thought-provoking. The contrast between feudal and modern society makes me think what else I hold true or basic, but haven't really understood where it comes from, what it means, and that it hasn't always been so. I recommend this book despite the reasoning leaps I mentioned. The message of this book will make you think. And it made me appreciate more about the study of history. We need to understand where we come from and where our ideas come from to see the whole picture. "In capitalism economic activity, success, material gains become ends in themselves. It becomes man's fate to contribute to the growth of the economic system, to amass capital, not for purposes of his own happiness or salvation, but as an end in itself. Man became a cog in the vast economic machine — an important one if he had much capital, and insignificant one if had none—but always a cog to serve a purpose outside of himself."

  19. 4 out of 5

    John David

    When Camus asked one of the more famous questions in twentieth-century existentialism – “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” – he was attempting to struggle with maybe one of the most powerful accoutrements of modern society: both our struggle to possess freedom, and then how to handle it once we think we have “achieved” it. But while freedom causes its own peculiar troubles at the level of the individual, whole new dynamics arise at the level of culture and society. The main thrust When Camus asked one of the more famous questions in twentieth-century existentialism – “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” – he was attempting to struggle with maybe one of the most powerful accoutrements of modern society: both our struggle to possess freedom, and then how to handle it once we think we have “achieved” it. But while freedom causes its own peculiar troubles at the level of the individual, whole new dynamics arise at the level of culture and society. The main thrust of Fromm’s book rests on a psychoanalytic, sociological, and economic framework that begins by tracing the middle ages and looks at the paths that freedom has taken since the rise of modernity (which he roughly co-equates with the birth of capitalism and the rise of the Reformation theology). Most of us share a rather naïve model of how freedom is related to this arc of history: namely, the more economic and political freedom that we have (“freedom from”), the better and more fulfilled we were. However, just as Isaiah Berlin would do later with his “Four Essays on Liberty,” Fromm suggested a dialectical approach to the notion of freedom: not only a “freedom from,” but also a “freedom to.” The naïve model rests almost wholly on the “freedom from.” However, Fromm clearly believes that individuals not only struggle for freedom, but also with freedom. Complete freedom – from webs of meaning, from ties that bind us to each other, to creativity, and supportive communities – is something that actually endangers institutions like the modern liberal state and participatory democracy and causes us to “take flight” into other, more precarious forms of government, as we saw happen all over Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Fromm begins his archaeology of the modern spirit with an analysis of how the medieval economic system slowly transformed into what we would recognize today as proto-capitalism. During this transformation, the medieval person was able to pursue their own independent roles (following the breakdown of the apprenticeship system and feudalism more generally), but was simultaneously cut off from other roles. Whereas money was always a necessity, it used to exist for necessities; usury was outlawed, even by (especially by) the Church. In capitalism, money begins to be seen not as a means to fulfill particular physiological and safety needs, but an end in itself. Capitalism meant living in a new aristocracy of money that put people “in a position where they could enjoy the fruits of new freedom and acquire a new feeling of mastery and individual initiative. On the other hand, they had to dominate the masses and to fight against each other, and thus their position, too, was not free from a fundamental insecurity and anxiety.” The perfect storm of alienation comes when this radical change in economic circumstances is coupled with the rise of Lutheranism and Calvinism. Fromm argues that Protestantism breeds feelings of anger and resentment. It demolished the God of the medievals which mostly believed in a God of unconditional love; it made him a tool instead of an end; it capitulated before secular power and relinquished the principle that secular power is not justified because of its moral principles; and in doing all this it relinquished elements that had been the foundations to Judeo-Christian tradition. “Its doctrines presented a picture of the individual, God, and the world, in which these feelings were justified by the belief that the insignificance and powerlessness which an individual felt came from the qualities of man as such and that he ought to feel as he felt.” Fromm cites three ways in which people can choose to “escape from freedom.” The first is authoritarianism, wherein they willingly choose to submit control to a governing power structure that makes choices for them, thereby defraying their existential anxiety. Second is automaton imitation where a group of people come together to in the absence of authoritarian means to great groups that impose norms, mores, and other exclusionary standards on others. Third is destruction, where in the absence of either of the above two options, someone can simply choose work at cross purposes with their own thriving and existence. This can come in many forms, from the more moderate lack of self-esteem to engagement in deviant behavior to the commission of suicide. The important commonality to realize here is that all of these choices eliminate the anxiety-inducing feeling that comes with creativity, openness, and rational decision-making. Of course, none of these three are inevitable. Ideally, someone will engage in the act of self-realization – the humanistic work of challenging one’s self by rising to encounter the spontaneous and creative activity that most parallels your own talents. Fromm knows that life provides no easy answers; he is even more percipient in realizing that the political way of life is yet one more way by which people can engage in violence, symbolic, personal, or otherwise. But his answer is, to co-opt the words said of a Massachusetts senator who refused to behave herself, “nevertheless, persist.” Giving up and conceding existential ground is not violent because the people who take the power almost always end up being totalitarians and despots, though certainly that doesn’t help. The violence rests in the giving up those few parts us that makes ourselves human at all: our creativity, create communities engaged in meaning-making, work in and around what drives us with curiosity and passion, and to give and live life fully and selflessly. Political violence only works if it succeeds in making monsters of us first. And as Goya was all too ready to remind us over a century ago, it is exactly in the sleep of reason, in the concession of our internal, thoughtful lives, where these monsters are produced.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lysergius

    Fromm's analysis of freedom as experienced by modern man is traced through changes in religious and economic conditions in history. His conclusion that modern man is isolated and alone prone to absorbing autocratic ideas for comfort, or sliding into sado-masochistic relationships is fascinating and appropriate today. In the course of his exposition Fromm also challenges some of the basic dictates of Freudian theory among which he selects the function of sex as an effect of surfeit as opposed to s Fromm's analysis of freedom as experienced by modern man is traced through changes in religious and economic conditions in history. His conclusion that modern man is isolated and alone prone to absorbing autocratic ideas for comfort, or sliding into sado-masochistic relationships is fascinating and appropriate today. In the course of his exposition Fromm also challenges some of the basic dictates of Freudian theory among which he selects the function of sex as an effect of surfeit as opposed to scarcity in the classic Freudian model. A source of pleasure, rather than just a release of tension. This is an absorbing and challenging analysis and well worth the effort, since it proposes some painful truths for those moderns who believe that they are free, when in fact we are all a product of our conditioning blatant and latent.

  21. 4 out of 5

    akchaism

    An insightful book about the human phycology and it's attitude towards "freedom" and "authority". There were different perspectives and factors explained about this attitude of Western society. Overall a good book, and I definitely should read it again. An insightful book about the human phycology and it's attitude towards "freedom" and "authority". There were different perspectives and factors explained about this attitude of Western society. Overall a good book, and I definitely should read it again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Muscat

    In a single book Fromm manages to: -identify why people need to be part of something larger than themselves -identify the social changes that contributed to the rise of liberal capitalism from Medieval times to the Reformation -identified the character traits that give rise to totalitarianism, Fascism and Nazism -argues that liberal democracies under capitalism are lacking as much freedom as totalitarian states -identifies both the socio-economic conditions and personal conditions one needs to flouri In a single book Fromm manages to: -identify why people need to be part of something larger than themselves -identify the social changes that contributed to the rise of liberal capitalism from Medieval times to the Reformation -identified the character traits that give rise to totalitarianism, Fascism and Nazism -argues that liberal democracies under capitalism are lacking as much freedom as totalitarian states -identifies both the socio-economic conditions and personal conditions one needs to flourish and be happy (hint: a controlled economy directed towards human happiness rather than profit combined with bottom-up democratic participation) Bonus points: -Identifying Lutheranism and Calvinism in combination with the loss of meaning and economic power in creating fertile ground for monsters -Showing me Luther and Calvin were monsters themselves and their vision of God as cruel and domineering will only lead to domination and cruelty towards yourself and others -that sadists and the power-hungry are dependent on the 'weak' person they use -that Fascists hates themselves as much as they hate others -that us living in so-called 'free' societies are still not free. We are subject to conformity, materialism and economic drives that suck out any knowledge we may have of our true selves and how to flourish. Here Fromm foresaw the tyranny of social media rather perfectly. Fromm is right about everything and not a single page on this book feels dated or wrong. The only thing that may be argued against is that we escaped the fight for natural resources and economic scarcity. Climate change and our relationship to nature has brought that back and yet it does not disprove Fromm but rather proves that our current social system is broken and not only has it broken the bond between individual and a sense of higher purpose, but it has also broken our bond from nature. Compelling, insightful with searing critique, this is a classic everyone should read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Murray Brown

    Erich Fromm offers profound insights into the social character -- a synopsis of the mind of a typical person in society -- and how it has evolved historically, showing that we are a product of the prevailing culture of our times. He places this analysis in the context of the socioeconomic, cultural and spiritual factors influencing society at the time of the Reformation and then contrasts that period with the rise of Fascism in Europe (not long before he wrote the book in 1942). He examines Freu Erich Fromm offers profound insights into the social character -- a synopsis of the mind of a typical person in society -- and how it has evolved historically, showing that we are a product of the prevailing culture of our times. He places this analysis in the context of the socioeconomic, cultural and spiritual factors influencing society at the time of the Reformation and then contrasts that period with the rise of Fascism in Europe (not long before he wrote the book in 1942). He examines Freudian theories of the mind, some of which he dismisses as overly simplistic or only partially explanatory; although he clearly has great respect for much of Freud's work. Fromm deals at length with sadomasochism, explaining the yin-yang nature of these twin urges and how they are a central characteristic of the authoritarian personality. How can these urges be manipulated? Most of us aren't even aware of the extent to which we are constantly being influenced by our society. We wrestle to reconcile our urge to submit with our urge to rebel. This leads to his central thesis -- the duality of freedom: the distinction between "freedom from" and "freedom to": what is the cost to us in being free from some oppression and what is our responsibility in having freedom to be some way?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mochizuki

    Escape From Freedom by Eric Fromm is an oldie but a goodie classic philosophical book about modern man freeing himself from the bonds of society--any society. Man, in breaking away from his social structure, encounters isolation, and he is confronted with a decision to either escape from the burden of his freedom into new dependencies and submission, or to advance to the full realization of positive freedom which is based on the uniqueness and individuality of man. In Chapter 7, Fromm speaks of Escape From Freedom by Eric Fromm is an oldie but a goodie classic philosophical book about modern man freeing himself from the bonds of society--any society. Man, in breaking away from his social structure, encounters isolation, and he is confronted with a decision to either escape from the burden of his freedom into new dependencies and submission, or to advance to the full realization of positive freedom which is based on the uniqueness and individuality of man. In Chapter 7, Fromm speaks of "Spontaneous Activity" as being the one way in which man can overcome the feeling of aloneness without sacrificing the integrity of his self. In the spontaneous realization of the self, man unites himself anew with the world - with man, nature and himself. Love is the foremost component of such spontaneity; not love as the dissolution of the self in another person, not love as the possession of another person, but love as spontaneous affirmation of others, as the union of the individual with others on the basis of the preservation of the individual self. (Now, we liberated girls know that when Eric Fromm speaks of "Man" he means us also. After all, he wrote the book in 1941!)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Npc Convergence

    If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm’s work analyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah El Harake

    It is such an enlightening book that everyone should read. It gives new information about many concepts that you thought you knew very well. It could have been perfect and I could have given it five stars instead of four if it dealt more with the idea of secularism and religion in the modern times.

  27. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Foreword --The Fear of Freedom Appendix: Character and the Social Process Index

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Rush

    How could millions of people in a modern country fall in love with an autocratic leader who cared little for political consistency and pleased his adoring fans with blatant lies and hate filled accusations and where cruelty to others seems to be the whole point? Erich Fromm has the why it happened in his day by showing how the Protestant reformation psychologically primed society to be susceptible to the inflammatory rhetoric of Adolf Hitler. Fromm lays it out in a structured manner that is thoro How could millions of people in a modern country fall in love with an autocratic leader who cared little for political consistency and pleased his adoring fans with blatant lies and hate filled accusations and where cruelty to others seems to be the whole point? Erich Fromm has the why it happened in his day by showing how the Protestant reformation psychologically primed society to be susceptible to the inflammatory rhetoric of Adolf Hitler. Fromm lays it out in a structured manner that is thorough, entertaining, and well written, with enough footnotes to feel slightly academic. While I am not an intellectual or academic I suspect that his analysis that the appeal of Fascism on the masses is ultimately due to a combination of of societal and individual neurosis now comes across as quaint. BUT really it makes as much sense, or more, than most any New York Times or Wall Street Journal opinion piece the purpose to explain Trump-ism today. And of course any open minded person will see the parallels between then and now. NOT that Trump is like Hitler, but that people then and people now embraced willful ignorance and cruelty as a political brand. So yeah, it feels really relevant today. The ultra short take away is that freedom is a psychological problem because of the way it plays out in our capitalistic society and people cannot accept freedom because with that freedom comes unbearable uncertainty. Uncertainty that must be avoided at any cost to our selves to, the point the people and societies become neurotic. Fromm goes into the historical trends and believes the psychological loss of certainty of the Medieval time by the Reformation brought a freedom but also caused a “moral aloneness” that influences us to this day. Religion and nationalism, as well as any custom and any belief however absurd and degrading, if it only connects the individual with others, are refugees from what man most dreads: isolation. Pg. 35 So the implications of the Reformation are a big chunk of the book, and I gather it was an intellectual trend of the day to say the Reformation laid the foundation for people to accept capitalism as a way of life (maybe it still is for all I know). The individualistic relationship to God was the psychological preparation for the individualistic character of man's secular activities Pg. 129 But this change came at a cost. The relatedness people felt in the Medieval era was broken and whereas before work was a means to an end (God’s end) now work is an end in itself, even though it was religion that got the ball rolling. This clearly came to full fruition in the 20th century with the likes of Norman Vincent Peale and ultimately the coming of the “Prosperity Gospel”. Man became a cog in the vast economic machine--an important one if he had much capital, an insignificant one if he had none--but always a cog to serve a purpose outside himself. This readiness for submission of one's self to extrahuman ends was actually prepared by Protestantism, although nothing was further from Luther's or Calvin's mind than the approval of such supremacy of economic activities. But in their theological teaching they had laid the ground for this development by breaking man's spiritual backbone, his feeling of dignity and pride. Pg. 130 The enthusiasm for business that is such a pervasive part of out lives for the last century has redefined how we relate to each other as humans. The concrete relationship of one individual to another has lost its direct and human character and has assumed a spirit of manipulation and instrumentality. In all social and personal relations the laws of the market are the rule. It is obvious that the relationship between competitors has to be based on mutual human indifference. .. The relationship between employer and employee is permeated by the same spirit of indifference. Pg. 155 Fromm moves on to explain that this way of life has an inherent uncertainty which poisons our new freedom to the point people want to escape from it, and one way to escape is to lose the self by an embrace of authority where he sees shades of masochism and sadism. Masochism as in destroying “the self” and sadism by finding joy in cruelty to so group who can be “the other”. And here he works out the psychology of it all so if enough people are neurotic it becomes a social phenomenon that is all too common. The principal social avenues of escape in our time are the submission to a leader, as has happened in Fascist countries, and the compulsive conforming as is prevalent in our own democracy. Pg. 155 it is hard not to like this bit if you have every been a troubled teen or troubled adult. On the other hand, the well-adapted person is supposed to be the more valuable person in terms of a scale of human values. If we differentiate the two concepts of normal and neurotic, we come to the following conclusion: the person who is normal in terms of being well adapted is often less healthy than the neurotic person in terms of human values.Pg. 160 And he goes on to address the topic of his day Nazism and here are some nice quotes form that section. Nazism never had any genuine political or economic principles. It is essential to understand that the very principle of Nazism is its radical opportunism. 245 The mass meeting is necessary if only for the reason that in it the individual, who in becoming an adherent of a new movement feels lonely and is easily seized with the fear of being alone, receives for the first time the pictures of a greater community, something that has a strengthening and encouraging effect on most people. Pg. 248 This is Goebbels's account of what is going on in himself: "Sometimes one is gripped by a deep depression. One can only overcome it, if one is in front of the masses again. The people are the fountain of our power." Pg. 249 A great deal of this propaganda consists of deliberate, conscious lies. Partly, however, it has the same emotional "sincerity " which paranoid accusations have. These accusations always have the function of a defense against being found out with regard to one's own sadism or destructiveness. They run according to the formula: It is you who have sadistic intention. Therefore I am innocent. Pg. 253 He also address freedom in a democracy and how the desire to escape is manifested This combination of cynicism and naivete is very typical of the modern individual. Its essential result is to discourage him from doing his own thinking and deciding. Pg. 276 The loss of the self has increased the necessity to conform, for it results in a profound doubt of one's own identity. If I am nothing but what I believe I am supposed to be--who am "I"? We have seen how the doubt about one's own self started with the breakdown of the medieval order in which the individual had had an unquestionable place in a fixed order The identity of the individual has been a major problem of modern philosophy since Descartes. Pg.280 Finally he brings out his path out of this where Freedom is embraced by society arranged so mankind can allow itself to be “spontaneous” . This feels a little out of the blue but I think it is more fully fleshed out in his later books. But at this point after a few hundred pages of depression human behavior it feels a little unearned, at least to me. But maybe I can’t accept my own freedom. The basic dichotomy that is inherent in freedom--the birth of individuality and the pain of aloneness--is dissolved on a higher plane by man's spontaneous action. Pg. 287 If the individual realizes his self by spontaneous activity and thus relates himself to the world, he ceases to be an isolated atom; he and the world become part of one structuralized whole; he has his rightful place, and thereby his doubt concerning himself and the meaning of life disappears. This doubt sprang from his separateness and from the thwarting of life; when he can live, neither compulsively nor automatically but spontaneously, the doubt disappears. He is aware of himself as an active and creative individual and recognizes that there is only one meaning of life: the act of living itself. Pg. 289 Of course he will lose a lot of viewers in modern America because he sees as integral to solving this problem of people wanting to escape freedom hinges on society having a solid structure to help alleviate much of society’s uncertainty. Basically a super strong social safety net, and yes he uses the “S” word, Socialism. The irrational and planless character of society must be replaced by a planned economy that represents the planned and concerted effort of society as such. Society must master the social problem as rationally as it has mastered nature. One condition for this is the elimination of the secret rule of those who, though few in number, wield great economic power without any responsibility to those whose fate depends on their decisions. We may call this new order by the name of democratic socialism but the name does not matter; all that matters is that we establish a rational economic system serving the purposes of the people. Pg. 299 At least in America that ain’t gonna happen and I think we as a nation will continue looking for any avenue of escape we can find. ########################################### On a related note I was browsing a books store and opened a book called “Freud or Jung” and chanced upon this passage that a previous owner had highlighted for me… ...although the incidence even of major mental diseases has never been exactly estimated, it is safe to say anything from a third to three quarters of the race suffer from psychological malfunctions of one kind or another. Aside from the irritating and slightly oxymoronic “exactly estimated” phrasing, it is another acknowledgement that there are a lot of messed up people.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    This won’t be a very in-depth or fair review. Being that I actually finished it a month or so ago, and that Im in a rush to get this added and onto the book I have in my lap. ‘Escape From Freedom’ comes down to the idea that once the idea of the individual emerged, individuals no longer had security and purpose that was offered them in pre-capitalistic times, or feudal times. Pre-individualism and capitalism a person had security in their trade (farming, blacksmith, etc.). With the rise of capit This won’t be a very in-depth or fair review. Being that I actually finished it a month or so ago, and that Im in a rush to get this added and onto the book I have in my lap. ‘Escape From Freedom’ comes down to the idea that once the idea of the individual emerged, individuals no longer had security and purpose that was offered them in pre-capitalistic times, or feudal times. Pre-individualism and capitalism a person had security in their trade (farming, blacksmith, etc.). With the rise of capitalism and the individual freedom found within in it to become more than their trade (farming, blacksmith, etc.). You could now reach for the stars, but you no longer were guaranteed work at all. Much more effort is required and involved in being an individualistic capitalist. You now have to work harder than before to even be able to eat. Fromm’s claim is that the weight of this realization (excess work, and ‘insecurity, powerlessness, doubt, aloneness, and anxiety’ from being nothing more than a cog in the machine and no guarantee of work) is what causes humanity to abandon their freedom for promise and security. Humanity runs toward authoritarianism and totalitarianism as a child runs to their mother or father when they are scared. It is a concept that I believe to have seen amongst the individuals I have come across in my life, as well as the battle I fight within myself. On that note, read it, its good.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mack Hayden

    Last month, I read Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer and now, as I've finished this one, it just makes me want to read everything that came out of the Frankfurt School. Like Horkheimer, Fromm is as effective a critic as he is a prophet; he understood his own era so well that it allowed him to make extremely accurate predictions for the future. It's eerie to read this book in the Trump era as the very problems Fromm considers to be innate in liberal capitalist democracy have given way yet again Last month, I read Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer and now, as I've finished this one, it just makes me want to read everything that came out of the Frankfurt School. Like Horkheimer, Fromm is as effective a critic as he is a prophet; he understood his own era so well that it allowed him to make extremely accurate predictions for the future. It's eerie to read this book in the Trump era as the very problems Fromm considers to be innate in liberal capitalist democracy have given way yet again to demagoguery and authoritarianism. This is essential reading to see why it is that mankind is made so anxious by freedom and thus willing to abdicate from it at the earliest available opportunity. I especially liked his take on how this sort of abdication can and does exist within traditionally free societies wherein there's no strongman leader or brutal oppression. In these societies, prominent throughout the rest, conformity doesn't need to be enforced from the top down because so many willingly submit to it even without fear of punishment. Excellent stuff here, really recommend it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.